Many of us would like to volunteer, but find that we just don’t have the time. Our lives are made up of work, family and other commitments and for someone whose days are filled with moving from one task to another, finding the time to volunteer might seem impossible.
Perhaps, however, it isn’t a question of “finding” the time, but more of “making” the time.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, your goals and daily life are likely to be made up of activities that fall into 3 categories:
- Must Do Activities
- Would Like To Do Activities
- Unforeseen Activities
The table below aims to serve as a broad example of what might make up these three categories for a working professional, a stay at home mum and a college going student.
In general, items in Category 1 would be tasks that fall in line with a long-term goal. The problem for most of us is that achieving these long-term goals often becomes the dominant factor of our lives and they are therefore always given ‘Level I’ priority – quite often at the cost of things we would ‘like to do’.
But it is possible, through planning and regular evaluation of the items that fall into Categories 1 and 2, to set aside time for each one of them, by changing the priority level we attach to them. Sometimes all it calls for is changing the priority level for a short period of time.
For example, if a working professional – who works long hours, travels a lot and just about manages to make some time to spend with his/her family – wants to volunteer, he could choose a month of the year when he knows his work schedule isn’t going to be that hectic and set aside a week or few days during that time to volunteer. In other words, raise the priority level of ‘volunteer’ to Level 1 just for those days.
This also brings up the point that goals and planning have to be realistic. A working professional may really want to volunteer for two months every year, but that might not be practically feasible.
It is also important to keep in mind that unforeseen circumstances, such as the examples given under Category 3 will crop up from time to time. These events require an immediate reshuffle of priorities – sometimes just for a very short period of time and sometimes for a longer period of time.
- Identify your own Category 1 and Category 2 items
- Set realistic goals for your Category 2 items and plan accordingly, raising their Priority Level when called for.
- Accept that Category 3 items that temporarily disrupt Categories 1 and 2 will crop up from time to time.
- Remember that long term goals, which generally lead to the ‘must do’ activities, usually take precedence in our lives, leaving us with ‘no time’ for anything else.
So the next time you really want to do something, but just don’t seem to have the time, try making it a priority for a specific time period and perhaps you will find that you can accomplish much more and do all the things you want to – whether it be volunteering, taking a holiday, learning a new skill or pursuing a new hobby.